EWI court case to continue

Econet Wireless International (EWI) says it does not intend withdrawing its application against Vodacom for inducement of breach of contract which is currently before the Nigerian High Court.

"The withdrawal of Vodacom (International Ltd.) and the dismissal of Vodacom Deputy CEO, Andrew Mthembu, have no bearing on the case, which is currently underway in the Nigerian High Court," says Econet Wireless Group CEO, Strive Masiyiwa.

"The dismissal of Mthembu does not absolve Vodacom."

Masiyiwa says the next hearing in the matter has been set for June 17, when the presiding judge will rule on an application by Vodacom for leave to file further affidavits.

Explaining the background to the case, Masiyiwa says that when Vodacom first approached Econet Wireless Nigeria (EWN) to buy shares in that company, he personally went to see Mthembu to advise him that there was an existing agreement between EWN and EWI for EWI to acquire shares in the Nigerian company.

"Mthembu made an undertaking that Vodacom would not get involved if he received proof of the agreement between EWI and EWN," Masiyiwa says.

Masiyiwa then made Mthembu sign a confidentiality and nondisclosure agreement after which Mthembu was given a copy of the relevant agreement. "It was a shock to learn that Vodacom subsequently made an almost identical counter offer for the Nigerian company," he adds.

"Although Mthembu was the principal player in the inducement by Vodacom, he did so in his capacity as deputy CEO of the group. We believe that he will be called as a witness, and will be compelled to come to Nigeria and explain Vodacom's actions, otherwise we will expect Alan Knott-Craig to appear in Nigeria as a witness," says Masiyiwa.

EWI believes it has suffered damages in excess of US$1.8 billion as a result of the decision by the Nigerian shareholders to set aside the agreement with EWI and to accept an offer from Vodacom.

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